Advertisement

Can airport be saved?

March 25, 2003

For more than five years, officials of the Borough of Chambersburg, Pa., have been discussing the idea of closing the municipal airport. We suggest that the council carefully weigh any decision to do so, because building another one today would be nearly impossible.

The airport, first opened in 1970, had to remain open until this year because the Borough Council agreed to operate it for at least 20 years after receiving federal renovation money in 1983.

But in 1989, a consultant determined that the airport wasn't a major factor in the area's economic development because of the operations of the Hagerstown Regional Airport.

And though there are five lease-holders at the airport, including the Chambersburg Skydiving Center, Councilman Bob Wareham said that an airport subcommittee has been unable to develop other, more profitable uses for the facility or find someone else who's willing to run it.

Advertisement

Some of the leaseholders would like the council to specify that anyone who purchases the 95-acre property would have to continue operating it as an airport, but Council President Bill McLaughlin says that's not possible.

Perhaps not if it's presented for sale, but if the council sought proposals for a long-term lease, it might attract some attention. One of the lease-holders who faces the loss of the facility might be motivated to run it themselves, or in concert with the others.

Once the facility ceases to be an airport, there's little chance that another could be developed in the future. That would foreclose the possibility of using it as an economic-development tool by offering prospective businesses the option of flying corporate airplanes in and out.

That said, there are financial realities to consider. If the facility is sold, the return would be substantial. That means proponents of keeping the airport operating must craft a plan that over time will provide the borough with an amount equal to, or greater than, the proceeds of any sale.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|